Manila Standard - Bring him to court

28 November 2020

By Rod Kapunan | Manila Standard

"Justice Leonen seems to think he is above the law."

Section 2, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution provides, “The President, Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.”

The petition filed by Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. involves three causes of action: 1) The annulment of the proclamation of Robredo; 2) recount and revision of ballots in 36,465 protested clustered precincts; and 3) annulling the election results for vice president in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan on the ground of alleged terrorism; intimidation and harassment of voters, as well as pre-shading of ballots in all of the 2,756, protested clustered precincts.

Ironically, the protest is centered in the Muslim-predominated provinces. The declared winner, being stooge of a Catholic front organization, is an insult to the inhabitants of the provinces because the organization that supports her is bigoted to the cause of the Church.

It is a simple petition for a recount, and should the allegation be proven, to annul the proclamation. The petitioner has already rested his case, which is the reason BBM hastened to submit his petition for decision.

The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has the exclusive jurisdiction to decide the case. Section 3 of R.A. No. 1793 provides, to quote: “The Presidential Electoral Tribunal shall decide the contest within 20 months after it is filed, and within said period shall declare who among the parties has been elected, or, in the proper case, that none has been elected, and in case of a tie between the candidates for president or for vice-president involved in the contest, one of them shall be chosen President or Vice-President, as the case may be, by a majority vote of the members of the Congress in joint session assembled.”

If counted on the day the petition was filed, which was on June 29, 2016 including the day it was submitted for decision that allowed Justice Marvic Leonen to sleep on it for more than 11 months, the petition has effectively been pending for more than three years. This shameless presiding justice of the PET committed a betrayal of public trust, which for every second of the delay prejudices the right of the petitioner.

As one luminary would legally theorize the case, between what is constitutional and the law that was violated, common sense dictates that people will give priority to prevent a violation than in analyzing whether the action is unconstitutional which is presumptive.

Although the petition is for PET to decide the validity of the proclamation, the delay has transformed it to a continuing crime. Leonen already violated that law, and that violation persists to be rightly classified as obstruction of justice. It is no longer Robredo that is committing the offense against the petitioner and the people who voted for BBM but the justice himself, for he stands as the one personally committing and perpetuating the crime.

The malicious and premeditated delay in rendering a decision can no longer be adjudged as a political act requiring the impeachment of a member of the Supreme Court but one of seeking to remove him by direct court action.

The continuing transgression by Leonen constitutes an open defiance of the law that cannot be tolerated to stretch his act to one of indefinite and continuing violation. His despicable act sets a bad example why a criminal case must be lodged against him.

If the crime constitutes a single act, that means it was immediately consummated and is a valid ground for impeaching a bigoted justice under Section 2, Article XI. The validity in classifying betrayal of public trust as a continuing offense is predicated that the offense persists to prejudice the rights of the electorate whether or not they voted for or against BBM. The premeditated, malicious and contemptuous act of Leonen amounts to depriving the voters their right to know who rightly won in the 2016 election.

The mandate of the PET to decide the case within 20 months is warranted and justified because the offense continues to be violated by his malicious tantrum. In fact, this lazy justice has 82 pending cases under his sala. Strangely, he was quick to throw out the petition for him to inhibit filed by the petitioner and the Solicitor General because his ego was pricked.

He was appointed justice of the Supreme Court without him serving even as prosecutor or as municipal judge, and at one point he challenged the Solicitor General by threatening him of a “show cause” order for wanting him to disclose his SALN which is required by law.

As one lawyer commented, Leonen is far from being a legal scholar as projected by his patron. The Supreme Court rejected as unconstitutional his “masterpiece” called Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in October 2012.

The Supreme Court as a collegial body now becomes a party to his shenanigan which constitutes a criminal act. Article 207 of the Revised Penal Code states to quote: “x x x. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum shall be imposed on any judge guilty of malicious delay in the administration of justice.”

According to Justice Moreno’s Philippine Law Dictionary, the concept of continuous crime is not similar to the requisites given by our court as decided in the case of People vs. Zapanta (88 Phil. 691). Here, it is one and the same offense that was violated to delay the execution of justice. There is no unity of criminal intent or purpose because the offender committed one act that stretches a period of time to the continued prejudice on the rights of others.

Most important, if a case is intended to prevent the court from causing prejudice to the rights of the offended, the petition for prohibition can be done through impeachment “to desist from further proceedings when the same are without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion,” and “to prevent the court or other tribunal, officers or persons from usurping or exercising a jurisdiction with which they are not vested.”

In this case, it is not the court which is at issue but the nasty attitude of Justice Leonen. For instance, the petitioner was required to put up a cash bond of P34 million to prevent his petition from being thrown out. But did Justice Leonen realize that the order had a strong undertone that makes him equally obligated to perform his duty on time?

This justice personally took the case upon himself. Leonen appears motivated by bias, prejudice and contempt to take away the issue of prohibition. Such is available to petitioner for it is being done with malice and premeditation to purposely delay the case.

Section 16 Article III of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution states that “All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies.” But it seems Mr. Leonen feels free to trample on the Constitution thinking he is above the law.